The Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratories in The Gambia were founded in the 1950s and have been active in malaria research since that time.In physical terms, the headquarters of the MRC Labs are at Fajara, in the Lower River Region of The Gambia near Banjul. In addition, there are multiple established sites for field studies, including Basse in the Upper River Region, where studies will be performed in this project. In addition, the MRC Labs are now undergoing a series of administrative changes that are creating an environment for young African investigators more similar to those at the University of Bamako in Mali and the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal.
Richard Oberhelman, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences at the Tulane SPHTM and Professor of Pediatrics at the Tulane School of Medicine. He has been actively involved in clinical and laboratory-based collaborative research since 1985. During that time, he has directed a variety of major collaborative research projects on pediatric diarrheal disease or pediatric tuberculosis.
Davis Nwakanma, MSc, PhD, is Senior Scientific Officer at the Medical Research Council Laboratories in Fajara. After completing his BsC and MSc at the Universities of Benin and Ibadan, he completed a PhD in Molecular Genetics at the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria and has been a scientific officer at the MRC since that time. His current studies focus on molecular diagnosis and on the molecular basis of resistance to antimalarials and insecticides.
The most striking changes in the epidemiology of malaria in Africa during the past decade have been in The Gambia, where the numbers of infections and cases of uncomplicated malaria have decreased by more than five-fold. However, these data are hospital- or clinic-based, and therefore, it is necessary to obtain community-based epidemiologic data on malaria in order to evaluate the significance of these changes. Community-based studies, such as those that can be performed by Gambian investigators in collaboration with MHIRT students, are necessary in order to place health center-based data in context and thus to understand the current state of malaria control in The Gambia. These studies will provide opportunities for students at the same time that they improve the understanding of malaria control in The Gambia.